For the people of Libya, with life, death, and the future of their country in the balance, the price of oil probably doesn't rank as a top concern at present. However, recent price movements suggest that the oil markets are closely following events in Libya and elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East.

Oil prices have risen from the first signs of disquiet in Tunisia to the fall of Egyptian President Mubarak to the violence and power shift in Libya, which has significantly disrupted that country's field production and exports.

Libya produced about 1.65 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of crude oil in 2010, or approximately 2 percent of global supply, while net exports (including all liquids) were roughly 1.5 million bbl/d.

The incomplete information coming from Libya has not spared the oil sector, and the market grasp of the scope of disruption has been less than precise, with estimates of production declines in the middle of last week ranging from 500,000 to 700,000 bbl/d to a near total shutdown.

But even an exact measurement of the crude oil, product, and natural gas shortfall in Libya would, at best, provide a partial sense of its significance. The market impact of such a supply disruption goes beyond volumetric loss and entails many different factors.

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